Friday, August 28, 2009

back-to-school cones (the post we always remember after the fact)

Seriously. We've been MEANING to write up this post for years now. (Hence the Amazing Growing Kidlets in the photos throughout.)

Let's (finally) SCRUMDILLY-DO some SCHULTUTEN!!!

Also called German School Cones or First Day of School Cones, a Schultute is a candy-toy-and-school-supply-filled cone traditionally presented to first graders in Germany.

I can't remember if it was my dear friend Anne, living in Germany, who told me about them, or if I first saw some lovely oooooold photo on flickr. But I'm always looking to adopt old traditions, and I'm all about encouraging Ander and Zaza to be SOSOSOSO EXCITED about the start of school. And then of course there was the excuse to shop for (me) and/or make (jek) cute/teensy/tasty/cool stocking-stuffer-like goodies a whole three months before Christmas!

(Positive reinforcement or mama-style brainwashing? You be the judge.)

Pressed for time a few years' back, I found and purchased our Schultuten on-line. Maybe next year I'll get around to making some... (Nudge me next August, jekky-poo!)

There are gorgeous -- and intricate -- templates all over the web these days, but why not keep it simple, repurpose something from around the house, and perhaps get the kidlets involved in the cone-making (while you handle the cone-stuffing)?

You can make your cone from any half-circle of cardstock, posterboard, old poster, or cereal box. Oooh! How cute would it be to use an old Pee Chee folder? If you have ever made those wee, sweet, conical May Day baskets we used to leave on neighbors' doorknobs as kids, then you already know what you're doing -- just make 'em BIGGER. No photo tutorial needed, right? Right. You just need to make a big half circle. Easy-peasy. It doesn't have to involve geometric equations or a compass (unless you want it to), and it doesn't need to be perfect (unless you can't help yourself).

Your half circle of stiff paper can be cut to whatever size you prefer, collaged/painted/stickered or covered with fabric, curled into a cone shape, and sealed up along its seam with hot glue, double-stick tape, craft glue, Velcro, staples, or even hole-punched eyelets and ribbon laces.

If you're worried about goodies spilling out, you can attach fabric or tulle along the top (inside the rim) of your cone, which can then be pulled up over bulky items and tied closed with a ribbon.

Let the wild cone-stuffing start!!!

Crayon-shaped chocolates (Cost Plus World Market, I think?), sugar-free breath mints or gum, personalized pencils, Japanese erasers, pocket dolls, barrettes, funky socks, markers, stickers, a mini stapler, a roll of pennies or quarters, a globe-shaped pencil sharpener, mini Composition notebooks, hi-lighters, mini bottles of hand sanitizer, pins and buttons and patches for decorating backpacks, tape, a fun ruler, comic books, flash cards, sticky notes, trading cards, vials of glitter...

...finger puppets, Silly Putty, Pez, balls of yarn, wind-up robots, Playmobil 'guys,' Legos, pom-pom balls, pipecleaners, rubberband balls, fruit leather, worry dolls, marbles, jacks, a harmonica, a magnifying glass, animal crackers, a 'magic' wash cloth, headbands, temporary tattoos, a toy car, paint brushes (tiki heads optional, see below), gift cards... The possibilities are endless, and can be as minimal or as, um, baroque as you see fit.

When Ander first started preschool, I made the mistake of giving him his cone on the morning of his First Day. Disaster! Chocolatey, whiny, hyper, over-stimulated, rush-rush-rushing disaster!

Since then, Ander -- and now Zaza too -- get their cones the day before their first day of school. I usually include something in their cones that they may want to bring or wear to their first day, and I have found that the 'first day eve' celebration ramps up nicely to the actual first day's excitement. You may prefer presenting the cones on the afternoon of the first day, when everyone is home again, and first day stories have been shared with the family.



  1. Fabulous idea and so creative!! A new tradition worth keeping!!

  2. Great idea. I end up buying them so much back-to-school things anyway, this is a nice way to present it and make them realize how *much* they're getting. New boxes of crayons and markers become that much more special in a cone!

  3. There was an article about this in the no-longer-published WonderTime a while back. Such a great idea. I thought it a bummer that I'd be waiting til first grade, but a pre-first day of school schultute is a great idea! My kiddo starts pre-k at the end of next week, so I'd better get crackin'! :) xo, celia

  4. Yea! You are so awesome! My kids would absolutely love this...might have to use it as a mid-year encourager.

  5. great idea and what a way to start the school year!

  6. These cones are such a good idea! Kids always get so apprehensive about the first day of school so making them get excited about new school materials is genius! Thanks for your post!

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